Johannesburg - The constitution cannot be blamed for the
slow pace of change in South Africa, said Planning Minister Trevor Manuel.
"The constitution empowers and enables, but beyond
that, actual change requires human actions," he said on Monday evening.
Manuel was addressing the opening session of a conference
entitled Strategies to Overcome Poverty and Inequality - Towards Carnegie
III at the University of Cape Town.
He said the constitution provided South Africans with the
values that bound them and enabled them.
Policy could also not be blamed for hampering
"Policy should guide and provide a framework for
evaluating the progress of actions by people. Policy documents do not suddenly
assume the ability to walk, talk and act - they only guide."
Manuel said it was important to realise how different
elements of policy intersected and mutually reinforced each other.
"Too often the economic policy discussion ends with
slogans about macroeconomics, and all this does is to warn the listener that
we have not matured sufficiently to understand that transformation is only
possible in an environment of stability created by sound macroeconomic
"And that change comes from advancing the
implementation of rational, progressive social and microeconomic
The government was not solely responsible for the
transformation of South Africa.
"Whilst government should never be allowed to devolve
its responsibility, the process is actually a bit more complex," Manuel
The National Planning Commission was of the view that
transformation occurs when a number of agencies interact.
"The first, and perhaps the most important of these is
an active citizenry - a nation whose conscience is vested in the ordinary women
and men who comprise and who act in their own and in the national interest -
they cannot outsource this responsibility to government."
Manuel said the second agency was leadership.
"When we speak of leadership, we counter the notion of
the 'big man'. Our model of leadership is one that involves tens of thousands
of active citizens who take initiative, in the common interest."
The third agency for change is an effective government at
local, provincial and national levels.
"An effective government is responsive to the needs of
its people, in its listening, policy priorities and allocation of
Manuel said transformation would not be possible without the
close interaction of these three agencies.
The University of Cape Town, with the support of the
National Planning Commission, is holding a conference to stimulate deeper
thinking about strategies to overcome poverty and inequality in South Africa.
This is seen as the first stage of the third Carnegie
inquiry in this country. Manuel said 304 papers have already been submitted for
The first Carnegie inquiry into poverty in South Africa was
published in 1932 and focused on the "poor white" problem "and,
as a consequence, entrenched the poor black problem", Manuel said.
The second Carnegie report on poverty in South Africa was
produced in 1984 by Francis Wilson and Mamphela Ramphele.
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